BT Vision – Your Questions Answered
We answer common questions about BT Vision asked by visitors to this site, in our unofficial FAQ
|Getting BT Vision
|Content / channels
Q. Can you record Freeview programmes on the BT Vision+ Box? Are they free?
A. Yes – the BT Vision+ Box will record Freeview programming onto the built-in hard disk. There’s no charge for recording Freeview onto the V-Box, as long as you remain a BT Total Broadband customer.
A. Using the BT Vision+ box for recording TV shows from Freeview is free-of-charge as long as you remain a BT Total Broadband customer. The service needs to make regular connections to the BT Vision server, and it’s a problem if the box can’t contact the Vision Server. According to the BT Vision website, at the moment, the Freeview and digital recording (DTR) functionality won’t work unless you are connected to a phone line that’s BT Broadband enabled. It seems that the electronic programme guide is delivered to the box over Broadband, and with no Broadband, there’s no EPG.
At the time of writing, there’s a note on the BT site that, in the future, BT will release a software update to enable their set-top boxes to work as dual-tuner Freeview recorders, even when they’re not connected to BT Broadband. We’re not sure when (or if) this will happen.
Q. Subscription: Do you have to pay anything else after the installation and subscription like you do with Sky TV or is it free to view all of the channels excluding Freeview?
A. You don’t have to be a BT Vision subscriber, but you do need to be a BT Total Broadband customer. The Freeview channels are free-to-view on a BT Vision box. TV/video content that’s downloaded over the Internet will be chargeable – you can either pay per-item (programme, movie, sporting event, etc) with prices from 29p per item, or if you plan to watch lots of content, it may be cheaper to subscribe to a package.
Freeview is now broadcasting some of its channels in HD, notably BBC One, ITV and Channel 4 in HD. To watch Freeview HD, you either need a Freeview HD TV set or a special Freeview HD box. The current BT Vision box doesn’t have the required circuits for Freeview HD, so you can’t watch the live Freeview HD channels using your Vision+ box
You can get some HD content though, and that’s using the Vision On Demand service. It’s now possible to download HD content to your BT Vision boxes. At the time of writing, prices are £4.95 for a blockbuster HD movie, or £2.95 for an older HD movie.
When the HD on demand service was launched, HD content was limited to a small selection of movies in HD, but this is slowly improving.
Note that movies will take between 5-7 hours to download over Broadband – it’s not instant. The 1080i format is supported. Also note that although Freeview channels won’t be in HD, the Vision+ box will "upscale" Freeview from the standard 576 lines to HD’s 720 lines.
On Demand HD ‘Downloads’ option
A. The BT Vision+ Box has an S/PDIF optical audio out socket, which supports Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. At the time of writing though, neither Freeview content nor BT Vision’s On-Demand content is transmitted with Dolby Surround Sound – just in standard stereo. On one of the BT beta forum threads, there’s talk about the potential for surround sound with BT Vision on-demand content in the future.
A. To use a BT Vision+ Box, it needs to be connected via an Ethernet cable to a BT Home Hub. The Hub must in turn be connected to a phone line that’s enabled with BT Broadband. At present, you currently need to subscribe to BT’s broadband service in order to use the Freeview and DTR functionality. See our answer on cancellation.
Q. The BT Vision+ Box comes with a one year warranty. If I cancel my BT Total Broadband a year down the road, do I keep the VBox? If I am still a BT Total Broadband customer after a year, and the VBox breaks down, who pays for the maintenance?
A. If you cancel your BT Total Broadband subscription after one year (or 18 months if you took up an 18 month contract), you keep all equipment supplied with BT Total Broadband and BT Vision.
If the equipment breaks down after 12 months you would be required to pay for replacement equipment (as with any product purchased with a 12 month warranty). However, BT frequently has offers for customers who ‘re-contract’ such as discounts or free equipment, so if you were willing to commit to another 12 month term you would probably get equipment replaced for free. Thanks to Colin Miles for help on this one
A. BT Vision is only available in the United Kingdom. BT Vision requires a BT Total Broadband connection, and we can’t find anything on BT’s site to indicate that BT Total Broadband or BT Vision are available in Ireland. If you’re looking for alternatives services in Ireland, try our UK Internet TV page, or consider Sky Ireland
A. According to BT’s site: "BT Vision requires a minimum guaranteed broadband line speed of at least 2Mb". They won’t sign you up unless you meet this minimum. Typically, Broadband speed is most affected by distance from your phone exchange. There’s a speed checker at bt.com/btbroadband.
If you’re not able to get BT Vision due to your line speed, consider some of the other digital TV alternatives
Note that when watching on-demand content over Broadband, the BT Home Hub reduces the bandwidth that’s available for other devices connected to Broadband to ensure stable BT Vision video playback – this is called QoS, and gives video priority over other online activities.
Q. Does the BT Vision set top box have wireless connectivity?
A. At present, the BT Vision box only supports a wired connection (using an Ethernet cable) to the BT Home Hub. Wireless (wi-fi) is not supported by BT Vision.
A. The BT Vision service offers live TV from Freeview, and video-on-demand content such as movies, sport and TV shows that can be viewed on a BT Vision box via a BT Total Broadband connection. If you can’t get Freeview in your area, then with a BT Vision box, you won’t be able to get live TV from Freeview (as live TV requires a suitable TV aerial and Freeview signal). If you can’t get Freeview, you will still be able to get a range of TV and movie content that’s downloadable from BT Vision over the Internet, but you won’t get live TV over broadband.
Q. Wireless connection? Does the BT Vision Set Top Box need to have a wired connection to the TV? If not and it can be connected wirelessly, can this connect to more than one TV wirelessly throughout the house?
A. The BT Vision Set-top box connects to a TV via SCART (or the HDMI connector). It also needs a wired connection to the BT Home Hub. We’re not aware of any wireless option at this time, but you can use a set of HomePlugs to connect your Vision box to a Home Hub over your home’s mains wiring.
Q. Can my ‘dish’ be used instead of the normal TV aerial?
A. No. BT Vision gets its live TV signals via Freeview – this is done using TV aerial pointed at a digital TV transmitter. Satellite TV technology is different – this relies on a receiver connected to a dish pointing at an orbiting satellite.
See our UK satellite TV page for information on getting TV via a satellite dish.
Q. Can I connect a BT Vision V+ box to a Sky satellite dish?
A. No. BT Vision needs a TV aerial to get its TV channels, not a satellite dish. BT Vision boxes and Sky boxes use a different technology.
Q. My TV and DVD recorders have Freeview digital tuners installed. Can they be connected to the BT Home Hub?
A. No. The Home Hub is a Broadband modem/router, and it’s the BT Vision+ box that has the required software, decoders, onscreen guide and Internet connection needed to get TV over Broadband. You need a BT Vision box to get BT Vision via a Home Hub.
Q. Self-install: If I have the BT Home Hub and a TV close by, can I install the VBox myself and save the setup fee? It sounds like all it needs is connection the VBox to the TV using the SCART cable, to the aerial for Freeview and to the USB port of the Home Hub.
A. At launch, BT only offered an Engineer-installed option, but in 2007, they opened this up to self-install and now supply a self-install kit. Note also that part of the installation process involves setting up a wireless connection been one PC and the Home Hub.
A. Your BT Vision box needs an Ethernet connection to your Home Hub broadband router. If you’re having an engineer install BT Vision for you, he will run a phone extension socket near to the TV so that the Hub can be sited near the TV and connected to your phone line for Broadband access.
If this isn’t practical, or you’ve opted for the self-installation option, then BT will supply you with two Powerline mains adapters. These use your existing in-house electrical wiring to send and receive data – and Powerlines work perfectly well with BT Vision. Plug an Ethernet lead from the BT Home Hub to one of the Powerline units and plug it into the mains. Then, near the telly, plug another Ethernet lead from the v-box to the other Powerline adapter, and plug it into a mains socket.
A. There are three ways to connect a BT Vision+ box to a TV:
- If you have a High Definition TV set, you can use an HDMI lead to connect to your TV. This will give you the best quality.
- Most commonly, you’ll want to connect using a SCART lead. Connect a SCART lead from the V-box "TV" socket to a spare SCART socket on the TV. Then, on the TV, select the ‘AV’ / ‘Line in’ feed (normally using a button on the TV remote with an icon like the one on the right) so that the output of the v-Box appears on your telly. Check the TV manual if you’re not sure how to make it display a Line In channel.
- Connect to the TV via an aerial lead from the V-box RF Out socket. Applies to the first-generation (grey coloured) boxes only. This offers the lowest quality option. We cover this under our "No SCART" FAQ entry.
Q. How do I use two BT Vision boxes on the same phone line?
A. Sorry, but you can’t. Due to the way BT Vision talks to the BT Vision servers, only one box per BT phone line will work. To use two boxes normally at the same property, you would need two phone lines. One alternative is to connect your first BT Vision box to other TV sets in the house, either with an extension cable, or wirelessly – For more on this, see our BT Vision Multiroom answer
A. Yes you can. At the moment, BT does not let you have two BT Vision boxes on the same telephone line, so you can’t go for a ‘BT Vision Multiroom’ service. This is because the BT Vision box communicates to a remote BT Vision server for the video-on-demand service, and the service can only handle one BT Vision service per broadband-enabled line.
What you can do though, is feed the output of your BT Vision box to a second TV. This will let you watch whatever is being shown on your Vision box in a second room. Here are the options:
- Use a Video Sender: You buy a kit with a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter plugs into one of the BT Vision box SCART sockets, and it sends the output wirelessly to the receiver that you plug into your second TV. More details on AV Wireless Senders.
- Connect via aerial cable: This only applies to the first-generation grey boxes. Connect a co-ax aerial lead from the RF Out socket on the Vision box to the aerial in socket on the second TV. The grey BT Vision boxes contain a modulator that will allow you to tune in your TV to the output of the Vision box. More on co-ax in another room.
A. The original BT Vision box (coloured grey) has what’s known as a modulated output, which sends the output of the BT Vision box down a TV aerial co-ax cable in a way that means that you can connect to a TV, then tune the TV into the RF modulated channel (in the same way as you’d tune in a standard non-digital TV channel).
If you want to do this, you need to enable modulated RF Output. From the BT Vision box, go to Settings > General Settings> RF output channel, and set a channel number between 21 and 68 – then tune your TV into that channel number.
The newer black BT Vision boxes don’t have an RF modulator built-in, so to connect to a TV without a SCART, you’ll need to get an RF modulator box.
A. Yes, you can. Sky Digital and BT Vision are two separate services and they don’t conflict with each other. If your TV has enough spare AV inputs (SCART or HDMI), then you can connect directly to your TV, otherwise you may need a SCART switcher to allow you to make the physical connection.
Note that you can’t record the output of your Sky box on your BT Vision box – the v-box doesn’t support recording of line-in feeds via SCART.
A. We understand the official answer is ‘no’ – the BT Home Hub is required for BT Vision. We’ve been told that the BT Home Hub will need to be used with BT Vision so that the Vision box doesn’t steal all of the broadband bandwidth, as it leaves some for other Internet applications. That having been said, we’ve had reports via our BT Vision forum, that it is possible to use other routers with BT Vision.
A. No – Content downloaded to your Vision box does not affect your BT Total Broadband monthly download allowance. From BT’s site: "…broadband services such as BT Broadband Talk, BT Vision and BT Fusion do not count towards your allowance."
A. It’s our understanding that the Home Hub will manage the broadband bandwidth to ensure that there’s enough bandwidth for on-demand TV content without judders, while still leaving bandwidth for other Internet activities. This is called QoS (Quality of Service), and ensures that video packets get higher priority than other traffic. According to BT Vision’s site, there will be at least 0.5MB left for other broadband users connected via the Home Hub, which should be enough for your son to use for gaming, surfing and emails.
Q. If I do not have a TV but have BT Broadband and would like to watch on my PC. Does BT Vision support this configuration? – Greg
A. BT Vision uses a special set-top box to receive programmes and show them on a TV set. The box connects to a TV set via a SCART or HDMI socket. It’s not designed to be connected to a PC, although there’s no technical reason why you couldn’t connect the TV output of the BT Vision box to a PC TV card fitted to your PC, and watch the box output on your PC. The BT Vision box can only view one programme at a time, although it is possible to watch one show and record another onto hard-disk for later viewing. Viewing of two programmes simultaneously is not supported by BT Vision
If you’re looking to get streaming Internet TV on a PC, then BT Vision isn’t the solution you’re looking for – see our UK Internet TV section for information on sites offering streaming TV content for PCs.
Q. What spec (op system & hardware) is required on the PC to connect to BT Vision package? – Peter Feltham
A. BT Vision doesn’t use a PC. The set-top box plugs directly into your TV set, and into the Home Hub wireless router, which connects to your Broadband phone line. There is no PC software needed to run BT Vision, and you don’t need a PC to watch BT Vision.
A. No. Even though there are USB and Ethernet ports on the V-Box, at present, it’s not possible to transfer content onto the BT Vision box hard drive. If you’re looking to watch video recorded on your PC on your telly, perhaps consider the Neuros OSD.
BT Vision – Channels and Content:
A. With BT Vision, you get your live TV using the Freeview service, so the standard Freeview channels are available. This includes ITV2, ITV3, BBC3, BBC4, E4, Film4, Pick TV, Dave, Quest, 5 USA , BBC News, Sky News, Yesterday, CBeebies, etc. More on BT Vision channels.
Then, there’s the content you can download over Broadband. These aren’t TV channels in the traditional sense – the content is a selection of movies and TV shows that can be viewed on the v-box "on demand". Programmes are sourced from a number of places and providers, and some TV companies have provided content to BT Vision.
There’s a collection of downloadable programmes from TV channels including: 4 on Demand, BBC Hits, Comedy Central, HBO, MTV, Warner TV, National Geographic, ABC, Discovery on Demand and The History Channel. For kids, there’s content from Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Jetix. See our BT Vision Content page for more.
Looking to find what service carries your channel? See our Channel Overview
Q. Does BT Vision offer sports?
A. Yes, BT Vision Sport launched in August 2007. You can watch live sporting action from ESPN, Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2.
See our BT Vision Sport section for more on BT’s sports offering.
Q. To decide whether to go for BT Vision I need to know what TV channels are free. I understand I can pay to view golf. I need to know the cost per viewing.
A. There are around 40 channels of free-to-view TV channels available on Freeview via the BT Vision box. You can find a list of the Freeview channels here: Freeview Channel List. As for the individual costs of pay-per-view sporting events, these vary depending on the event and type of coverage – as an example, a Premier League football match costs £1.99 a game. See our BT Vision Sport section.
Q. What films are offered by BT Vision, and how much do they cost?
A. Films are typically either £1.99 or £2.99 for a 24 hour rental. See our On Demand Summary for a sample of what’s available
A. When you rent a programme, movie or sporting event from BT, you’re renting it for a set period of time (movies are rented for a period of 24 hours). Within this period, you can watch, pause and rewind it. The content is not downloaded onto your hard disk – you’re streaming it from BT’s servers. After the time period runs out, you can’t watch that content again without paying the rental fee again.
Q. I am not in a Freeview area and don’t want a satellite dish. I’m disappointed that BT Vision is reliant on Freeview and not piping the live TV down the broadband connection. Do you think BT or anyone else might do this in the future?
A. Our guess is the reason BT is using Freeview as the delivery method for live TV is that if everyone started watching all of their TV over Broadband all of the time, Broadband would grind to a halt. With BT Vision, all of downloadable content is chargeable, which will help to keep the bandwidth manageable for BT. We understand that there are also some licensing issues about having real-time TV shows streamed over the Internet, which also accounts for the lack of online live programming.
Note that BT is looking to offer a package called ‘TV Shows" (for £6 a month), and well as individual shows from 79p each. If you can’t get either Freeview, satellite TV or Cable, this still makes BT Vision a viable option for additional TV content not available on terrestrial TV. .
Q. "How long does it take to start playback of an on-demand item?"
A. Playback starts in a matter of seconds (6 seconds, when we tested)
Q. Can I get the BBC iPlayer on BT Vision?
Yes. For a while, there was only a small collection of BBC content on offer on the BT Vision catch-up service. From June 2011, the full BBC iPlayer experience launched, giving access to recent BBC TV and radio shows. The BT Vision BBC iPlayer service is available on channel 990.
More on our Unofficial Guide to the iPlayer.
Q. I can’t get TV Listings to appear on my TV Vision box
The BT Vision set-top box gets its programme guide via Broadband, not over-the-air. Check that you have a Broadband connection as follows: Press BT Vision. Select Settings > General Settings > System Information, and go to the "Network Info" tab. Check your IPTV status.
A. Yes, the BT Vision v-box has a twin tuner. You can record one digital channel while watching another.
Q. Can I record two channels at the same time and watch a previously recorded programme?
A. Yes, we’ve checked – with the BT Vision+ box you can record two programmes simultaneously, whilst watching a programme that’s already previously been recorded.
Q. -The box is streaming content from the Internet. Can it stream content (music, pictures, movies) from my own computer?
A. We’ve been told that the answer is no. This is not a supported feature
Q. Is it possible to surf the Internet on the TV using a BT Vision v-box?
A. Not at the present time, although we expect this is something that will be offered in the future. You can make use of a BT directory enquiries lookup service now though.
A. No – not at present. The BT Vision box can only record content from the built-in Freeview receiver
A. Press the BT Vision button, scroll to Recordings, and select "Recorded" to get to a list of your recorded shows.
A. No. even though the BT Vision box has ethernet and USB sockets that could allow this, at the moment, you can’t access the data on the V-Box in a way that means you can download recordings as raw data to rip to a PC.
You can, however, copy programmes to DVD by connecting a DVD recorder using a SCART lead and playing the content from the box, provided that the content is not copy-protected. You can also connect to a PC or Mac using a PC TV receiver. BT Vision on your PC
Q. Is it possible to watch DVDs on a BT Vision box?
Q. Programmes getting cut off… help!
A. Sometimes, TV shows run late, or run over-length. Unfortunately there’s not a lot the V-Box can do about this, and so preset recordings may be cut off. There is a workaround. When you set a recording, you can specify that a number of minutes are tagged onto the end of scheduled recordings. To do this, go to ‘Recordings’ > ‘Scheduled recordings’, select the recording, and go to ‘Record settings’. You can then add minutes to the end of recordings using the ‘Stop recording’ option.
Q. Can you use a top-up TV card in a BT Vision box? Pat Nicholls
A. No. Top Up TV is a completely different service
BT Vision Technical Support phone number: 0800 111 4567. Also, 0845 600 1426.
BT Vision Customer Services: 0800 800 900 (7:30am – 10pm daily)
If you want to write to BT Vision, the postal address we have is: BT Vision, Customer Correspondence Centre, BT plc, Durham DH98 1BT
If you want to email BT Vision, you can do so via the BT Vision Support pages
A. Call BT Vision Customer Services on 0800 800 900 (7:30am – 10pm daily) and select Option 2
More on BT Vision?
More BT Vision Help:
- Got a general question? Try emailing us and we’ll add it to this FAQ
- Got a networking / technical question? Ask in our BT Vision forum